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Automated Ultrasonic Testing

of Pipeline Girth Welds

Automated Ultrasonic Testing of Pipeline Girth Welds


Be Exceptional

Fundamentals & Applications for


ISBN 978-0-9917095-3-3 Non-Destructive Testing
2nd Edition

2nd Edition
9 780991 709533 www.eclipsescientific.com
Automated Ultrasonic Testing for Pipeline Girth Welds

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Copyright Information ........................................................................................................................................ i


Preface ................................................................................................................................................................... ii
Acknowledgements ........................................................................................................................................... iv
Table of Contents .................................................................................................................................................v
Chapter (1): Introduction .................................................................................................................................... 1
Chapter (2): History ............................................................................................................................................. 5
2.1 Early Ideas ......................................................................................................................................... 5
2.2 The Introduction Of Mechanised Welding ................................................................................... 6
2.3 UT Adaptations To Mechanised Welding ..................................................................................... 7
2.4 Probe Design Changes ..................................................................................................................... 9
2.5 Mechanised UT Enters The Computer Age .................................................................................. 9
2.6 Standardising Concepts ................................................................................................................. 12
Chapter (3): Weld Zones ................................................................................................................................... 13
3.1 Principles Of The Zonal Technique .............................................................................................. 13
3.2 Beam Control ................................................................................................................................... 16
3.2.1 Beam Spot Size ................................................................................................................. 16
3.2.2 Beam Angle ...................................................................................................................... 24
Chapter (4): Beam Angles - Designing A Technique .................................................................................. 39
4.1 Defining Fusion Zones ................................................................................................................... 39
4.2 Volumetric Detection ..................................................................................................................... 53
4.3 Some Transverse Ideas ................................................................................................................... 56
4.4 Adding TOFD.................................................................................................................................. 58
4.5 SMAW And SAW Needing Vertical Targets .............................................................................. 59
Chapter (5): Calibration – How To Set Up Targets ...................................................................................... 63
5.1 Building The Block – Drawings And What A Machinist Deeds To Know ............................. 64
5.2 Mounting The Block – Using A Dummy ..................................................................................... 68
5.3 Checking The Block – Dimensional Conformance And Acoustic Checks .............................. 70
Chapter (6): System Requirements – Equipment And Displays ............................................................... 77
6.1 Scanner Head .................................................................................................................................. 77
6.2 Data Acquisition Units ................................................................................................................... 79
6.3 Displays ............................................................................................................................................ 85
6.4 Records ............................................................................................................................................. 91
Chapter (7): Making A Good Calibration ...................................................................................................... 93
7.1 A review Of targets ........................................................................................................................ 93
7.1.1 Zonal Targets ................................................................................................................... 94
7.1.2 Volumetric Targets .......................................................................................................... 96
7.1.3 Transverse And TOFD Notches .................................................................................... 99
7.1.4 Various Calibration Aspects .......................................................................................... 99

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Automated Ultrasonic Testing for Pipeline Girth Welds

7.2 Limitations On Calibration Quality ........................................................................................... 106


7.3 Characteristics Of A Good Calibration ...................................................................................... 107
Chapter (8): Project Preparation, Pre-Project Planning ............................................................................. 109
Chapter (9): Qualification- Systems, Operators And Techniques .......................................................... 115
9.1 What Is Required In A Qualification ......................................................................................... 118
9.1.1 Testing At Elevated Temperature ............................................................................... 118
9.1.2 Repeatability With Guide Band Movement .............................................................. 120
9.1.3 Accuracy In Circumferential Positioning/Location .................................................. 121
9.1.4 Repeatability With Scanner Orientation .................................................................... 121
9.1.5 Detection Level On An Un-Welded Bevel ................................................................. 122
9.1.6 Coupling Check–Alarm Levels Verified (TR and PE) .............................................. 122
9.1.7 Repeatability With Scan Direction .............................................................................. 123
9.1.8 Clearance Test ................................................................................................................ 124
9.1.9 Probability Of Detection And Sizing .......................................................................... 124
9.1.10 Accuracy In Height And Length Sizing ..................................................................... 126
9.1.11 Other Equipment Tests ................................................................................................. 127
9.1.12 Operator Qualifications ................................................................................................ 128
9.1.13 Summary ........................................................................................................................ 129
Chapter (10): Interpretation ............................................................................................................................ 131
10.1 What To Evaluate ......................................................................................................................... 131
10.2 Evaluation Thresholds ................................................................................................................. 135
10.3 Flaws ............................................................................................................................................... 135
10.3.1 Misfire ............................................................................................................................. 135
10.3.2 Undercut ......................................................................................................................... 135
10.3.3 Burnthrough................................................................................................................... 136
10.3.4 Shrinkage Cracks ........................................................................................................... 136
10.3.5 Porosity ........................................................................................................................... 136
10.3.6 Inter-Run Non-Fusion .................................................................................................. 137
10.4 Geometry ....................................................................................................................................... 138
10.4.1 Root ................................................................................................................................. 138
10.4.2 Cap Geometry ................................................................................................................ 140
10.4.3 Hot Pass Geometry ....................................................................................................... 141
10.5 False Or Overtrace Signals .......................................................................................................... 142
10.6 Examples Of AUT Indications .................................................................................................... 144
10.7 Flaws ............................................................................................................................................... 144
10.7.1 Lack of Fusion - Root .................................................................................................... 144
10.7.2 Lack of Fusion - Subsurface ......................................................................................... 145
10.7.3 Lack of Fusion - Surface (Cap) ..................................................................................... 145
10.7.4 Centreline Crack ............................................................................................................ 146
10.7.5 Root Porosity.................................................................................................................. 147
10.7.6 Fill Porosity .................................................................................................................... 148
10.7.7 Inter-Run Non-Fusion .................................................................................................. 148

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Automated Ultrasonic Testing for Pipeline Girth Welds

10.7.8 Burn-Through ................................................................................................................ 150


10.8 Special flaws .................................................................................................................................. 151
10.8.1 Transverse Cracks ......................................................................................................... 151
10.8.2 Copper ............................................................................................................................ 151
10.9 General Comments On Flaw Detection By AUT ...................................................................... 152
10.10 Geometry ....................................................................................................................................... 152
10.10.1 High-Low ....................................................................................................................... 152
10.10.2 Root Geometry ............................................................................................................... 153
10.10.3 Cap Geometry ................................................................................................................ 154
10.11 False Signals .................................................................................................................................. 155
10.12 What To Do With Volumetric And TOFD Data ....................................................................... 157
10.13 Computer Assisted Positioning .................................................................................................. 158
Chapter (11): Acceptance Criteria .................................................................................................................. 161
11.1 Workmanship ................................................................................................................................ 161
11.1.1 API 1104 .......................................................................................................................... 162
11.1.2 AS 2285 ........................................................................................................................... 163
11.1.3 CSA Z662 ........................................................................................................................ 165
11.1.4 ISO 13847 ........................................................................................................................ 166
11.1.5 DNV OS F101 ................................................................................................................. 166
11.1.6 General Considerations In Workmanship Acceptance Criteria For AUT ............. 168
11.2 ECA-Based Acceptance Criteria ................................................................................................. 169
11.2.1 The Principles Of Engineering Critical Assessment ................................................. 170
11.2.2 Interaction Rules Compared ........................................................................................ 176
11.2.3 Generic ECA-Based Acceptance Criteria ................................................................... 178
Chapter (12): AUT Sizing And Probability Of Detection ......................................................................... 181
12.1 Sizing Uncertainties ...................................................................................................................... 181
12.1.1 Sizing Techniques.......................................................................................................... 183
12.1.2 Amplitude Techniques ................................................................................................. 184
12.1.3 Temporal Techniques ................................................................................................... 191
12.1.4 Amplitude Sizing Comparison.................................................................................... 193
12.2 Determining Sizing Accuracy ..................................................................................................... 195
12.3 Detection Uncertainties – POD And POR ................................................................................. 200
12.3.1 Probability Of Detection ............................................................................................... 200
12.3.2 Probability Of Rejection................................................................................................ 207
12.3.3 Precision And Accuracy ............................................................................................... 208
12.4 Summary ........................................................................................................................................ 213
Chapter (13): Great Expectations And Mythologies .................................................................................. 215
13.1 Expectations................................................................................................................................... 215
13.1.1 Procedure Policies ......................................................................................................... 215
13.1.2 Audit Guidelines ........................................................................................................... 218
13.1.3 The Operator’s Log ....................................................................................................... 220
13.1.4 Wall Thickness Variation Effects ................................................................................. 221

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Automated Ultrasonic Testing for Pipeline Girth Welds

13.2AUT Myths .................................................................................................................................... 223


13.2.1 Porosity Cluster Sizing ................................................................................................. 223
13.2.2 Individual Pore Sizing .................................................................................................. 224
13.2.3 Pore Sizing By Pulse-Duration .................................................................................... 225
13.2.4 Accuracy Of Amplitude Sizing ................................................................................... 226
13.2.5 Sizing Accuracy To 0.3mm Based On Zone Size ....................................................... 226
13.2.6 Use Of TOFD To Allow Accurate Sizing Of Root Flaws ......................................... 226
13.2.7 Resolving Small Ligaments .......................................................................................... 228
Chapter (14): Applications .............................................................................................................................. 231
14.1 AUT Field Inspection Step-By-Step............................................................................................ 231
14.1.1 Scribing ........................................................................................................................... 231
14.1.2 Band-Setting ................................................................................................................... 232
14.1.3 Initial Calibration And Welder Qualifications .......................................................... 233
14.1.4 Production AUT ............................................................................................................ 233
14.1.5 AUT Repair Scans ......................................................................................................... 233
14.2 Overview Of Zonal Discrimination Applications .................................................................... 235
14.2.1 Pipeline Land-Lay ......................................................................................................... 235
14.2.2 Off-Shore Projects .......................................................................................................... 237
14.2.3 Spoolbases ...................................................................................................................... 240
Chapter (15): System Enhancements ............................................................................................................ 241
15.1.1 Dual-Product Long Seam ............................................................................................. 241
15.1.2 Restricted Access ........................................................................................................... 241
15.1.3 Seamless Pipe ................................................................................................................. 242
15.1.4 Inspections On Thick Section Risers And Tendons .................................................. 243
15.1.5 Curved Element Arrays For Improved Sizing In Risers And Tendons ................. 244
15.1.6 Focussing For Small-Diameter Pipes .......................................................................... 245
15.1.7 Hyper-Focussing ........................................................................................................... 246
15.1.8 Clad Pipe ........................................................................................................................ 247
15.1.9 Software Calculations ................................................................................................... 249
15.1.10 Austenitic Weld Inspections ........................................................................................ 251
15.1.11 Modelling And Model Assisted POD......................................................................... 252
15.1.12 Auto Flaw Detection Software .................................................................................... 253
15.1.13 Flaw Length Accumulation Software ......................................................................... 254
15.1.14 Enhanced Sizing Options Using DSP ......................................................................... 255
15.1.15 Future Displays ............................................................................................................. 255
Chapter (16): Procedures, Techniques And Written Instructions ........................................................... 257
16.1 Documentation Hierarchy ........................................................................................................... 257
16.2 Procedure Guidelines ................................................................................................................... 258
16.2.1 Scope ............................................................................................................................... 259
16.2.2 Standards And References ........................................................................................... 259
16.2.3 Definitions ...................................................................................................................... 259
16.2.4 Personnel ........................................................................................................................ 259

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Automated Ultrasonic Testing for Pipeline Girth Welds

16.2.5 Identification And Datum Points ................................................................................ 259


16.2.6 Surface Preparation ....................................................................................................... 259
16.2.7 Extent Of Inspection...................................................................................................... 259
16.2.8 Equipment Specification............................................................................................... 259
16.2.9 Equipment Calibration ................................................................................................. 259
16.2.10 Equipment Checks ........................................................................................................ 260
16.2.11 Assessment Of Test Results – Acceptance Criteria ................................................... 260
16.2.12 Reporting Of Test Results ............................................................................................ 260
16.2.13 Attachments ................................................................................................................... 260
Exercises ............................................................................................................................................................. 261
Appendix (A): Sample AUT Procedure ........................................................................................................ 275
Appendix (B): Phased Array UT Equations................................................................................................. 283
Appendix (C): Phased Array Focussing ....................................................................................................... 285
Appendix (D): Glossary Of Terms And Abbreviations ............................................................................ 287
List Of Figures .................................................................................................................................................. 291
List Of Tables ................................................................................................................................................... 296
Works Cited ...................................................................................................................................................... 297
Index ................................................................................................................................................................... 302

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Chapter (4): Beam Angles - Designing A Technique

CHAPTER (4): BEAM ANGLES - DESIGNING A TECHNIQUE

“In science one tries to tell people, in such a way as to be understood by everyone, something that no one ever
knew before. But in poetry, it's the exact opposite.” Paul Dirac 1902-1984
A “technique” is a term that may have several meanings in NDT. For our purpose the term will refer
to the set of detailed instructions that allows a zonal inspection of a girth weld. Essentially this would
define the probe parameters:
x frequency
x element diameters or number of elements
x refracted angles
x focal lengths
x whether or not the conditions require pulse-echo or pitch-catch configurations
Techniques would also require that the zones be defined and the targets recommended that will
provide good detection sensitivity. Aspects of how the parameter controls are maintained would not
be included in the specific technique, but would reside in a more general overriding document (i.e. the
AUT Inspection Procedure).
In addition to the standard zone considerations, we need to consider the placement and details for
volumetric targets. Consideration may also be required for transverse scans if stipulated in the
contract as well as the sort of TOFD that would best be suited for the application. Some weld
configurations will be ill-suited to a single zone target to address the full weld volume. For these
conditions we must also look at the possible need for special targets (centreline).

4.1 DEFINING FUSION ZONES


In the general overview, of the zonal discrimination method, we indicated how the weld is divided
into zones typical1y 1-3mm high and how beam angles are selected to optimise response off the fusion
face of the weld bevel. It is not necessary, and not even normal, that all the zones in a zonal technique
be equal in vertical extent. Much of the design is dictated by bevel shape. The root land and the “hot
pass” in GMAW bevel designs are usually significantly different angles. Figure 4-1 illustrates two of
the variations on GMAW weld bevels.

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Chapter (4): Beam Angles - Designing A Technique

Figure 4-1 GMAW bevel preparations (exact heights and angles may vary slightly)

On the left in Figure 4-1 is the modified J-bevel (CRC style) and on the right is a typical version of the
J-bevel. Most such welding configurations have a fixed set of dimensions for the lower aspects of the
bevel and then the upper portion has a small fixed angle that extends to the applicable wall thickness.
With the consideration that the geometry is fixed for such a weld profile, it can be an easy matter of
arranging a standard set of angles for the lower geometry and then simply adding on the necessary
zones for the upper (fill) region. For example, the CRC bevel would always have root, LCP and lower
and upper hot pass zones, note here that we will always assume the CRC configuration uses 2 hot
pass zones. Some inspection companies have opted to cover this area in a single zone. When one
considers that the 3.2mm vertical extent is actually composed of a surface 4.5mm long, it is much
larger than any typical beam spot size used. Centring a single beam in the hot pass would risk missing
unfused areas in the upper and lower corner regions of the zone.
Then, the number of fill zones would depend on the wall thickness. Similarly, the J-bevels would have
the root and hot pass as a common shape. A similar treatment of the vertical and angled portions of
the root could (and should) be used as was the case for the CRC with a root and LCP zone. The hot
pass, being a simple radius, would typically have one portion that would be targeted and the straight
small angled portion above would simply vary the number of fill zones used. Recently, with the
advent of effective focussing by phased array probes, a small zone is often added at the top of the fill.
This is an attempt to provide better discrimination between surface-breaking and subsurface flaws.
The root region of both the modified J and the J-bevels should have 2 angles of examination. In the J-
bevel there may not always be the small chamfered face (shown as 45° in Figure 4-1). Even then a
second angle should be used. This is because the root of a pipeline weld is in a fracture-critical
position, i.e. flaws in this region could present a higher risk of failure. For the chamfered face we
would try to arrange an ultrasonic beam to make a perpendicular incidence on the fusion face. For the
37.5° angle, illustrated on the root on the left, this would mean using a 52.5° refracted beam. For the
45° chamfered angle, of the profile on the right, this would mean using a 45° beam.
The vertical land is a common feature in most weld bevel preparations. It may be raised slightly above
the inside surface as in the examples in Figure 4-1, or it may extend to the inside surface.

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Chapter (4): Beam Angles - Designing A Technique

Contrary to some beliefs, the LCP region in the CRC bevel (or the raised vertical land in the J-bevel)
does not provide a direct target for a pulse-echo technique. Instead, the sound path followed returns
to the receiver via a “quasi-tandem” path. By this we mean a bounce is made off the vertical and then
inside surface to return along a parallel, but off-set, path from the transmitted pulse path. Figure 4-2
illustrates the bounce-path taken by the centre of beam ray that would be aligned to detect this
“imbedded” condition.

Figure 4-2 Quasi-tandem sound path for vertical land near root

Typically, this vertical land is inspected using a high angle shear wave beam (typically 65°-75°, a 70°
path is indicated). The higher angles are more likely to be used on thinner material to allow the probe
nose sufficient space from the weld cap. The single element option has always suffered from the
inability to optimise on the off-set return path. Its positioning was always just a compromise to get a
suitable signal from the reference target. Figure 4-2 shows the advantage of a phased array probe,
where the probe can be configured to transmit with one group of elements and have another group
optimise as receivers for the returned off-set path.
There was some thought that a
direct path was being followed, but
this would only apply to a tip-
diffracted signal off the upper
portion of the vertical flaw. The
presence of the tip-diffracted signal
can be seen under ideal conditions
on the calibration target. Figure
4-3, a captured A-scan, shows the
early arrival tip signal (from the
2mm diameter FBH target in
9.8mm wall pipe) and the much
larger quasi-tandem signal arriving
later. Figure 4-3 LCP target with tip and quasi-tandem signals

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Chapter (4): Beam Angles - Designing A Technique

When inspecting the root bevel (chamfer) it was noted that an angle would be selected to try to make a
perpendicular incidence on the face of the bevel. For thin wall (typically less than about 12mm) the
exit point of a probe would be only about 12-15mm from the centreline. This is very near the cap edge,
so it is common to use a 1.5 skip path for such conditions. The restriction of the cap and moving the
probe back to the 1.5 skip standoff is indicated in Figure 4-4. For phased array probe placement the
entire set of beams must be configured from a single probe standoff position. This would almost
certainly require that the path for the root chamfer target be based on a 1.5 skip sound path.

Figure 4-4 1.5 skip path for root chamfer zone showing conventional and phased array options

In both examples used in Figure 4-1 a hot pass region exists. This is a common welding pass in
pipeline fabrication. In fact the hot pass seems to be a term unique to pipeline welding. It is derived
from the manual down-hand welding technique. After the root pass is in place, it is generally very
convex on the exterior side of the pipe. Normally the root pass is ground to eliminate the excessive
convexity. The weld root is not entirely ground out, but only enough to expose “wagon tracks” (i.e.
lines of slag that are on either side of the built up convex region). The purpose of the hot pass is
primarily to burn out the “wagon tracks”. Ideally, this is achieved leaving the joint free of undercut
and some filling of the joint is also accomplished. To do this, a high current is normally used making
the process “hot”. In fact the electrode can overheat in the manual process. It is not clear if this is a
truly equivalent case, if the welding process is mechanised GMAW where the root pass may even be
deposited by an internal welding machine. In any case, in pipeline parlance, the pass over the root is
traditionally termed the “hot pass”.
In the modified J-bevel (CRC) the hot pass is indicated as having a vertical extent of 3.2mm and
depending on the process, the J-bevel uses a radius shape of about 2.5mm. In the J-bevel the radius
merges with the straight portion of the small angle bevel, so the actual vertical portion of the hot pass
may be slightly less than the radius. However, for the modified J-bevel (CRC) the hot pass is a flat
surface on a 45° slant. This presents a 4.5mm surface length. For the radius condition of the J-bevel we
can use a single flat-bottom hole target that is usually inclined at 45° and is tangential to the radius. In
the chapter on zone separations we considered focussing methods and limitations. Beams for this
application of AUT are typically focussed to about a 2.5mm diameter. This provides a spot size almost
the same as the radius portion of the hot pass for a J-bevel. However, the CRC bevel would have a

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Chapter (4): Beam Angles - Designing A Technique

length greater than the spot size. This would risk that portions of the fusion face would not be fully
covered at the correct angle to detect non-fusion. This is illustrated for the 2 weld bevel types in Figure
4-5.

Figure 4-5 Hot pass beam coverage

In Figure 4-5 we have indicated three bevel profiles with rectangles representing a 3mm diameter flat-
bottom hole. A grey bar is drawn indicating the approximate 2.5mm 6dB beam diameter and a curve
is indicated to represent the pressure drop-off that would result as the beam is measured from an on-
axis peak to the lowest pressures off-axis. The image in the middle of Figure 4-5 indicates how the
pressure drop is inadequate to ensure that the entire hot pass is examined with just a single beam
directed in the middle of the hot pass zone. The only effective option is to use 2 targets with the
centres ƚrd from each edge of the hot pass land (as indicated by the profile on the right in Figure 4-5).
A similar concern for the poorly oriented beam relative to the lower part of the hot pass in the J-bevel
where the bevel is nearly horizontal, has prompted at least one company to use a 2mm FBH target
instead of the 3mm FBH used on the fill zones. This is an attempt to increase detection sensitivity to
the poorly oriented surface.
It is worth noting that for the CRC style bevel, the lower hot pass zone requires a skip that is close to
the point on the inside surface where the excess metal from the root pass occurs. If the root geometry
has a small wander or is slightly wider, or if the guide band on which the probes are mounted is only
slightly off the ideal position, it may result in portions of the beam entering the excess metal of the
root instead of skipping off the smooth inside pipe surface. This causes annoying root geometry
signals. To avoid this or to reduce the occurrence, it is common practice to now use an angle that
allows a skip point farther from the root centreline. Most operators now use a 50° refracted angle for
the lower hot pass and 45° for the upper hot pass. This has the effect of reducing the amplitude of the
reflection from the target due to the 5° off-angle reduction in return pressure. Some extra gain is
therefore required, making this a bit of a compromise, since adding too much gain would also result
in sensitivity to the weaker off-axis components that were still able to drop into the root geometry. The
small positional differences are illustrated for the two hot pass beams in Figure 4-6.

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Chapter (4): Beam Angles - Designing A Technique

Figure 4-6 Accommodating root geometry for the lower hot pass zone

In the upper region, the small angle portion of the bevel completes the typical GMAW weld
preparation. This angle is anywhere from 1° to 15° and is considered the fill region. It is usual to
divide the portion above the hot pass into zones of equal vertical extents. The sizes of the zones are
not fixed to a specific height. If they were this would usually result in a partial zone. The offshore
pipeline code DNV OS F101 recommends that zones not be greater than a 3mm vertical extent. With
the advent of improved focussing using phased array probes, an extra zone is often added at the
outside surface of the pipe. This is typically fixed between 1.2-1.6mm. A 16mm wall pipe, with a J-
bevel with zones as illustrated in Figure 4-7, would have 7 fusion zones and 3 volumetric zones.
Zone dimensions that are useful include the zone height and the depth to the bottom of the zone
(depth to bottom is useful when indicating the depth to which a repair is required). Table 4-1 indicates
the vertical extents and depths to the bottoms of the zones that could be used for the AUT inspection
technique of the weld illustrated in Figure 4-7.
Table 4-1 16mm wall zone dimensions
Name Height (mm) Depth (mm)
F5 1.2 1.2
F4 2.78 3.97
F3 2.78 6.75
F2 2.78 9.53
F1 2.78 12.31
HP 2.19 14.5
R 1.5 16
V2 7.25 7.5
Figure 4-7 16mm J-bevel typical zones (including V1 7.25 14.5
volumetric) VR 1.5 16.0

Software is now available to carry out these calculations, but guidelines are useful when doing this
manually. Some of the zones are clearly a fixed value. The root, without a chamfer, merits its own
zone (1.5mm). The hot pass is defined by the point the fill line intersects the radius (2.19mm). In a
16mm wall thickness this leaves 12.31mm. It would be acceptable to make 4 simple zones in this space,

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Chapter (4): Beam Angles - Designing A Technique

each 3.08mm high. For some applications, however, it is useful to provide a Cap Zone so as to aid in
discriminating between surface breaking and subsurface flaws. A 1.2mm cap zone is about as small as
can be had and still obtain adequate signal separation between the Cap Zone and the next fill zone
under it. As with fill zone heights, the Cap Zone height can also be adjusted and has been set by
different companies between 1.2mm to 2mm high.

If we insert a fixed height cap zone of 1.2mm, this height is subtracted from the 12.31mm of fill region
giving 11.11mm. With 4 zones in the remaining 11.11mm, they are each 2.78mm high. Had we opted
to divide the 11.11mm fill region into 3 zones, they would each be 3.7mm high. This is an excessively
large zone and would not be useful for most applications. The importance of maintaining small zones
is discussed later when considering acceptance criteria.
Therefore, when designing a technique for a specific bevel and pipe thickness, some judgement is
required. Which option is used will require several considerations. These might include:
1. The acceptance criteria to be used on the project
2. Specific requirements of the customer
3. Vertical extent sizing techniques to be used (if used)
4. Bevel shape
5. Quality of the beam focussing achieved by the probes available
6. Wall thickness (path lengths)
The considerations for the geometry (shape and size) of the weld preparation and the probe quality
are, unfortunately, variables that make this an empirical judgement. Any person designing the
technique must have some prior idea of the capabilities of the probes being used. This knowledge is
now more readily available as a result of system qualification requirements imposed by some
agencies.
The entire zone discrimination technique relies on obtaining information from the separate vertical
intervals. Yet, as noted, concerning the use of a 2-zone hot pass, the size of the zone might be too large
and portions of the fusion face could be missed if the beam coverage is not matched to the zone size.
When discussing calibration setups we will later explain the recommended overlaps between zones.
This has been touched upon, as demonstrated in Figure 4-5, where the two adjacent pressure curves
are seen to overlap slightly. But, if the zones are too small, the overlap may be excessive and this will
mean that the operator cannot decide which zone the flaw originates from. These considerations for
zone separation should be addressed in the applicable Code or Specifications issued for AUT quality
and may also be considered factors in how the information will be used with respect to the acceptance
criteria for a given project.
We identified factors for technique development consideration that relate to the ultrasonic capabilities
of a system. Focussing parameters consider how a focal spot in an unfocussed beam (i.e. from a flat
element) is smallest at the near field distance and can be made smaller by focussing the beam to a
shorter distance than the near field length. Therefore, any item that limits the ability to control the
beam size will limit the ability to obtain good zone discrimination. For example, if a technique

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Chapter (4): Beam Angles - Designing A Technique

requires that the beam travel a long distance (e.g., very thick wall dimensions or very thin wall, where
a multiple skip path may be required) it will mean that a large probe aperture and or high frequency
is required to ensure that the near field is far enough away so that focussing at the fusion line will be
possible.
The bevel shape also dictates how effective the zone separation of even a well-focussed beam will be.
Beam dimensions are defined perpendicular to the beam axis. But for the small angle fill region most
techniques will use some tandem configurations that employ an oblique incidence of the beam and
rely on a bounce path back to a separate receiver (or separate receiving group of elements for a phased
array setup). As a result of the oblique incidence, the angle made to the fusion face means that the
focal spot dimension no longer matches the size of target zone concerned. Instead, it is the length of
the hypotenuse of the triangle made with the fusion face that defines the “effective” spot size. This is
shown in Figure 4-8.
Most techniques will have the beam, intersect the bevel, as it slopes with the top towards the beam
and most will use a refracted angle not less than about 45°. This will result in the range of spot sizes
being increased to an “effective” spot size of 1 to 1.4 times, the calculated spot size. This implies that
for perpendicular (pulse-echo) incidence there is no increase in the calculated spot size due to
projection, whereas for 45° incidence of the beam on the target plane there is an increase of 1.4 times
the ideal spot size due to the projection of the beam angle at the intersecting face.

Figure 4-8 Effective spot size increase due to oblique incidence

The ability to separate the zones becomes more and more difficult with a small fill angle, long sound
path to the point of fusion line intercept and small diameter or poorly constructed probes. For the
example of a J-bevel with a 3° fill bevel in a 15.8mm wall, the sound path for a 45° beam increases as
the beam is directed at depths farther along the second half of the skip path to the fusion line
intersection.
There are two main items of concern:
1. The probe parameters need to provide a good spot characteristic to focus at the correct steel
path
2. The zone size needs to be comparable to the “effective” spot size

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Chapter (4): Beam Angles - Designing A Technique

Figure 4-9 indicates the 2 fill zone options. One is slightly larger than usually recommended and the
other slightly smaller than is easily achieved by most focussing techniques. On the left are 3 fill zones,
each 3.5mm high, and on the right are 4 fill zones each 2.6mm high.

Figure 4-9 Fill zone options

To get a better understanding of the probe parameter considerations we will use a mono-element
conventional probe. We can tabulate the steel paths for the beams and add an equivalent steel path
distance to allow for the wedge path. Estimates are based on the wedge material being cross-linked
polystyrene and having an acoustic velocity of 2350 m/s. For the purpose of this illustration, we will
assume a wedge path of 10mm (this is equivalent to approximately 14mm in steel).
The considerations given will, for now, contemplate that a tandem configuration will be used in the
fill zones. Figure 4-9 indicates a 45° refracted beam is used and directed to intersect at the midpoints of
each of the fill zones for either a 3 or 4 fill zone on the 15.8mm wall with the 3° bevel. The term
“corrected” in the Table 4-2 merely indicates that 14mm has been added to allow for extra time in the
wedge. Values are rounded to the nearest mm.
Table 4-2 Tabulated data for probe selection
Zone 3-Zone: Corrected Steel Path (mm) 4-Zone: Corrected Steel Path (mm)
F1 46 45
F2 51 49
F3 55 53
F4 NA 57

A flat (unfocussed) 12.5mm diameter 7.5MHz probe has a near field length of 91mm in steel in shear
mode. It also has a spot size of 3.3mm diameter. 3.3 mm would be considered too big a spot to use
unfocussed, but having a 91mm near field it allows some room to focus the beam. The range of steel
path differences tabulated is not too different from one zone to the next. The difference in range
covered by the 45° sound paths to the targets is only 12mm (45mm to 57mm). It is very improbable
that a probe manufacturer would make such small increments between radii of curvature in a lens or
curved element. Although some refinement of focal spot might be possible using phased array
focussing, the fact is that the focal “spot” is more like a fuzzy zone along the beam axis. Theoretical
calculations are made based on a single frequency but most probes are fairly broadband so the
frequency-dependent near field calculation makes this an imprecise position.
For single element probes where the element is curved, probe manufacturers in North America
generally provide a probe based on a specified nominal frequency and the element curved with a
radius of curvature (ROC). In North America the ROC is usually given in increments of “inches” that

47
Chapter (4): Beam Angles - Designing A Technique

may be converted using a millimetre equivalent, e.g., 3 inch ROC, or a 75mm ROC, 5 inch ROC or a
125mm ROC. This is considered the “geometric focus”.
Looking at Table 4-2 above, we can approximate the position where the focal distance should be, to
the nearest millimetre. This would be near 50mm for most of the targets. Therefore a 12.5mm diameter
7.5MHz probe with a 50mm ROC might be an intuitive first trial for an effective spot size of the fill
zone targets. But the beam from such a probe does not in fact focus at 50mm. Modelling indicates that
the focus in steel for such a probe is at 20mm, this is indicated in Figure 4-10. The graph on the right is
the amplitude distribution across the beam at focal point (20mm).

Figure 4-10 12.5mm diameter 7.5MHz 50mm ROC (shear mode in steel)

The reason for this non-intuitive alteration of the focal distance is because the calculation doesn’t use a
1:1 ratio of focus to velocity units. This requires calculation of the focal distance, based on a ratio with
velocity, so an ROC of approximately 2.25 times that of the 50mm should be used. This would mean
that ROC or the geometric focus does NOT equate to actual focal length in the medium under test.
This would be an important consideration when purchasing a spherically focussed mono-element
probe. Therefore we could consider that a probe with some greater near field is required. The best
practical way to do this is to consider a larger diameter element (since higher frequency than 7.5MHz
is not practical for weld inspection by shear waves). A standard diameter in NDT might be considered
20mm. At 7.5MHz the near field length in steel for the shear mode of a 20mm diameter element is
234mm and has a 5.4mm diameter spot at that position. When focussed with a 125mm ROC the beam
focuses as shown in Figure 4-11. The graph on the right is amplitude distribution across the beam at
focal point (50mm).

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Chapter (4): Beam Angles - Designing A Technique

Figure 4-11 20mm diameter 7.5MHz 125mm ROC (shear in steel)

This focus provides a spot of only 1.3mm diameter at the area of interest (45-57mm along the steel
path). It is conceivable that we could use a smaller diameter element and thereby have a lesser degree
of reduction in the spot size from the natural focus (near field spot size). But this is done at the risk of
working with a smaller concentration of pressure due to the smaller focussing effect of the off-axis
lobes. But even with a 12.5mm diameter 7.5MHz probe some refinement of the beam is achieved as
shown in Figure 4-12 where we see that the spot diameter is approximately 1.9mm. The amplitude
distribution on the right indicates a weaker response in the focal region.

Figure 4-12 12.5mm diameter 7.5MHz 125mm ROC (shear in steel)

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Chapter (4): Beam Angles - Designing A Technique

It is worth noting that similar treatment of


focussing can be achieved with phased array
probes. Modelling the beam from a phased array
probe with an aperture of 13mm (i.e. equivalent to
the 12.5mm mono-element probe), we identify the
depth equivalent to the sound path range of
interest (45mm to 57mm) or about 38mm depth at
45° refracted angle. The focussed beam produced is
seen in Figure 4-13. It has a useful range of
approximately 15mm, either side of the 50mm
sound path, to the peak response.
This apparent digression to spot sizes is again
brought back to the concern for zone sizes. For the
steel path distances of concern, in Table 4-2, we are
now able to select a probe having a spot size Figure 4-13 Equivalent phased array beam
between 1.3mm to 1.9mm diameter. Having focussed at 50mm sound path
determined that the refracted angle used for the 3°
bevel is 45°, the beam would impinge on the fusion
line at 42° from the perpendicular. The effective
beam spot size as projected in the vertical plane can
be calculated as follows:
ܵ
ܵ௘௙௙௘௖௧௜௩௘ = (4.1)
cos ߠ
Where;
ܵ: Nominal Spot Size
For our condition, of a maximum spot size of 1.9mm and an angle of 42°, the effective spot size in the
vertical plane is 2.6mm. It is now much easier to decide which zone numbers to select for the
technique. The 3-zone option has vertical extents each 3.5mm. This is significantly larger than the
effective spot size of the projected beam. The 4-zone option has vertical intervals 2.6mm. This matches
the effective spot size. Although some overlap, of the pressure components less than 6dB down from
the maximum, may contribute to the signals from adjacent zones, the overlap should not be too
significant.
There is another consideration that will help us decide the zone sizes. In preparation for this portion of
the technique, dealing with the fill zones, it was decided that a tandem approach would be used. This
is typical for inspection of a near-vertical fusion face. Even if the cap geometry did not entrap the
beam reflected from a buried non-fusion flaw, the tandem return path could not address the condition
where the flaw was surface connected and not as deep as the centre of the beam (i.e. incomplete fusion
at the cap or sometimes called missed edge). Such a condition creates a corner reflector which can
provide a large amplitude signal. Although having a large upper zone, with the main target centred
1.75mm below the surface, would mean only off-axis portions of the beam could be used to detect

50
Chapter (4): Beam Angles - Designing A Technique

missed edge that was limited to the upper 1mm depth. The tandem detection of the subsurface 3mm
target is illustrated in Figure 4-14. The tandem path back to the receiver is not able to ensure that a
signal returns to the receiver elements. Tandem configuration for large upper fill zone it must rely on
off-axis beam to detect missed edge. As well, we will later discuss the issues of large zones and sizing
accuracy for critical surface flaws when using fracture mechanics derived acceptance criteria.

Figure 4-14 Tandem configuration for large upper fill zone

If smaller zones are used (such as the 2.6mm zones for the fills in Figure 4-15) there is a better
possibility that the tandem path for the uppermost fill zone could detect small surface breaking flaws.
This is due to the fact that the missed edges would be closer to the centre of the beam.

Figure 4-15 Upper corner detected by tandem when positioned for shallower position of smaller
upper zone

Figure 4-15 illustrates 4 Fill zones with 3mm diameter targets (black lines on the right side of the
bevel) and a phased array probe configured to detect the targets using a tandem path. However, now
that the zones are smaller, the centre ray of the beam is positioned higher for the uppermost zone. This
will provide a better opportunity to also detect the missed edge corner. Detection of the missed edge
by the tandem path is illustrated by the rays on the left side where a small 1mm surface breaking
target is placed.
Most GMAW bevels have the uppermost zone configured using a pulse-echo technique. Together
with the smaller zone sizes, the pulse-echo beam provides a reasonably effective detection method for
both the surface breaking and the slightly subsurface flaws, since even the slightly subsurface flaws
provide a quasi-tandem path (similar to that described for the LCP) easily detectable in the pulse-echo

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Chapter (4): Beam Angles - Designing A Technique

mode. When discussing calibration signal analyses, we will see how sensitive the pulse-echo probe is
to the surface breaking notch, as compared to the slightly subsurface flat-bottom hole (FBH).
With adequate focussing, as provided by the phased array systems, a small uppermost zone (1.2mm
to 1.6mm) can be incorporated into the technique. This uses a tightly focussed pulse-echo beam.
Sufficient zonal separation can be achieved, for the next zone down, using a tandem-configured beam.
Some have suggested that a high-angle compression wave be used for the uppermost zone. This is
sometimes referred to as a creeping wave. It has had reasonable results in controlled environments but
the signal quality is difficult to maintain in field conditions. Water for coupling is constantly moving
across the face of the wedge. This usage results in surface waves causing noisy signals that often
mislead the operator into thinking there are flaws, where none exist. Another problem with the high-
angled compression wave is its poor ability to discriminate between surface and subsurface flaws.
Most calibrations that use the so-called creeping wave are unable to separate the uppermost zone
target, from the adjacent target, without resorting to the use of a very short gate to avoid deeper
signals. This then prevents the detection of the region past the fusion line of the bevel.
In the foregoing description of the tandem configurations for inspecting the fill zones we addressed
only the transmitted beam. To afford the smaller spot size provided by increased focussing it is best to
try for a short sound path to the zone target. In a tandem pair of mono-element probes, with the
transmitter forward and the receiver behind, the forward probe would usually have the shorter sound
path to the target and thus would usually serve as the transmitter. The receiver can be an unfocussed
element; however, work with phased array systems has shown that signal-to-noise ratio is improved
when focussing is applied to the receiver elements as well.
When tandem arrangements are required the positioning of probes can be problematic for the
conventional mono-element options. Mono-element probes require small adjustments of the exit
points to maximize the signals from a tandem path. But with the need to mount each probe on a
separate wedge to accomplish this optimisation, there comes a point where the transmitter and
receiver cannot be spaced close enough to each other due to the physical limitations imposed by the
wedge sizes. Phased array probes do not suffer this limitation because it is possible to select the
transmitting and receiving elements such that they can even overlap.

Figure 4-16 Single position for phased array probe can provide tandem path for all zones

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Chapter (4): Beam Angles - Designing A Technique

Figure 4-16 illustrates how a single phased array probe addresses all 4 zones from a single position.
On the left the tandem pair of conventional probes for Fill 1 has the front of the receiver nearly
touching the back of the transmitting wedge. Some modification of the wedge shape or probe
dimension might be possible, but at some point the exit point spacing will be too small to accomplish
a tandem path within the shortest skip paths. The problem in this illustrated case occurs as early as
Fill 2. Figure 4-17 indicates how the transmitter and received probes must be separated to
accommodate the skip paths. The tandem path for Fill 1 is illustrated on the left. The overlapping
probe positions for Fill 2 are indicated with the receiver positioned as Rx2 on the right. Rx2a indicates
the probe position that would be used to accomplish the detection of the reflected tandem path from
the Fill 2 zone. This indicates that a double skip path is required. The option can be viable but the
reflected signal suffers from a large beam spread as compared to the single skip and is therefore much
weaker.

Figure 4-17 Double skip tandem path to receiver when single path space is inadequate

The close spacing of the transmitter and receiver elements could be considered one of the limitations
of the mono-element probe systems as compared to the phased array systems. However, for thicker-
walled welds, there can be a maximum limit to the spacing between the transmitter and receiver that
can be accommodated by the phased array systems. This may require custom designing of the phased
array probe or it may require that the affected zones are addressed by a tandem mono-element probe
pair while the rest of the weld is inspected with the standard phased array probe.

4.2 VOLUMETRIC DETECTION


In the early 1990s one of the short-comings of AUT was its perceived inability to detect porosity. It
was eventually determined that the flaw was in fact often “detected” but due to the irregular nature of
the reflecting surface it provided a much lower amplitude response than the more serious non-fusion
that had been the main concern for inspection of the GMAW welds. As a result of the lower response
amplitude, it was often ignored because it was below the evaluation threshold.
Early efforts to assess porosity were burdened with the requirement to make AUT results compare
exactly to radiography. This meant that the “projected area” of porosity was to be determined. But
such a quantification of the flaw is not possible with AUT. In fact it is not even consistently assessed
with radiography. When several experienced radiographers are given a radiograph of a weld with
porosity and are asked to determine if the porosity is 3%, 4% or 5% of the projected area, it is rare to
have all agree on which classification to use. In the end it is a qualitative, not quantitative assessment
being made.

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Chapter (4): Beam Angles - Designing A Technique

Early efforts (26) attempted to use an area relationship similar to that used by the Krautkramer AVG
method to assess the reflective area of the porosity. This proved as inconsistent as radiography but it
was apparent that porosity had to be characterised before any attempts at quantification could even be
considered. The earliest imaging formats, as illustrated in Figure 2-5 and Figure 2-6, were poorly
suited to characterisation of porosity, but the irregular travel times to reflectors in a mid-wall area did
provide some indication that it was different from the non-fusion which was characterised with a
constant time of arrival. In 1992, both Canspec (Edmonton, Canada) and RTD (Rotterdam,
Netherlands) experimented with full waveform data collection. This became the tool that significantly
improved characterisation of porosity. The B-scans, or mapping channels as they were called at the
time RTD when scans did not actually save the underlying waveform but instead mapped the
response as a simple bitmap-style image, were soon essential extras added to the data acquisition
systems to assist in identifying volumetric flaws.
The zonal discrimination technique is mainly used as a method for estimating the vertical extent of
planar flaws. But non-specular reflecting flaws (e.g., porosity and slag) are quite a different issue and
suggestion that quantification of their vertical extent is moot. A study in the Cleveland Cardiac Clinic
(27) used quantified pore concentrations from uniform micro-pores in a known volume. In spite of a

difference of a factor of 5 between the lowest and highest concentrations of pores (100 to 500 micro-
pores per cm3) the maximum deviation between the amplitudes of the signals from these pores was
less than 0.5dB and the relationship was not linear; e.g., 200 micro-pores per cm3 provided a higher
signal than 400 micro-pores per cm3.
Amplitude responses from porosity are the sum of the interference phase effects between point
emitters having interrupted a plane wave front. Even when the pore sizes are identical, as in the
medical studies, the distribution pattern will cause the interference pattern of the reflected wave to be
variable.
The preferred technique for porosity identification now uses 1.5mm diameter flat-bottom holes (as
initiated by NOVA Pipelines about 1995). But this is not used to establish a separate zone channel.
Instead, the target merely sets a position by which the beam can be assured of providing coverage in
the correct region. Gain is added to bring the 1.5mm FBH to 80% and the colour palette for the B-scan
selected such that low-level noise is not causing an excessive background.
Porosity detection cannot be considered with the same sort of go/no-go philosophy that the fusion line
flaws are treated. Unlike fusion line flaws that occur at a predefined time along the sound path,
porosity can occur anywhere from the Heat Affected Zone (HAZ) on the probe side to the HAZ on the
opposite side. As well, the pore (s) may be distributed at considerable distances off the beam centre
axis. All these factors indicate that the amplitude of the response from a single pore can provide no
assurance of its size. Even a cluster of pores cannot be assessed for severity by simply looking at the
integrated amplitude response since the reflected interference pattern may be constructive or
destructive and off-axis components could be weak, merely by their position in the beam, as opposed
to their size being small.
Since the first application of this technique was on relatively thin wall, the specifications for
volumetric targets were simple. For wall thickness less than 12mm, a root and mid-wall target at half

54
Chapter (4): Beam Angles - Designing A Technique

the wall thickness were used. For thicknesses over 12mm the mid-wall target was changed to 2 mid-
wall targets at 1/3 and 2/3 depths plus the root notch or FBH. It is conceivable that the root volumetric
channel could use a separate probe and a different FBH target, but more often the root probe for the
fusion line was used. This would be fired as a separate channel with about 6-8dB more gain than that
in the zone channel. Since extra gain was used and the fact that a colour palette with a low colour
threshold level was used, the off-axis sensitivity of the probe was effectively increased. The mid-wall
targets have almost always been 1.5mm diameter FBHs, angled at 45° and having the FBH centre on
the weld centreline. The best probe angle for these targets was a 45° refracted shear wave. Depending
on the system, the probe frequency is between 4MHz to 7.5MHz. One company has used a variation
on the 45° standard target. They opted for a 50°, 1.5mm FBH that was configured to be detected in the
first half-skip for the lowermost volumetric target.
As wall thicknesses being inspected increased on AUT projects, it became apparent that the 1/3 & 2/3
hole positions would not provide adequate volume coverage in all cases. Even though most systems
use some form of a divergent beam (flat element), the vertical beam spread of a probe has practical
limitations. Figure 4-18 shows a divergent beam approaching a typical 45° inclined volumetric target.
The 20dB beam edges are represented for a 12.5mm diameter 5MHz probe. These have a divergent
half angle of about 3°. By the time the beam reaches the target, it has a width approximately 6.4mm
across. However, when projected to the vertical (as we did for the tandem receivers) the 45° beam
angle interacts over a vertical extent of approximately 8 to 9mm. This dimension varies with distance
travelled and the actual divergence characteristics of the beam. If we are working in a range of wall
thicknesses of 25mm and using a separate beam for the root area, three such beams can provide a
reasonable coverage of the vertical cross-section, i.e. approximately 4mm for the root volumetric and
about 8mm for each upper volumetric probe (with allowance for some overlap). This is an empirical
guideline. In reality, the spacing of the volumetric beams will be based on the ability to detect the
adjacent volumetric targets in the calibration block to ensure that the desired coverage is obtained.
This is then verified by small amplitude responses from the adjacent volumetric targets displayed on
each volumetric display.

Figure 4-18 Approximate vertical coverage by a volumetric probe

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Chapter (4): Beam Angles - Designing A Technique

For a fairly thin wall (e.g., less than about 10mm) it is reasonable to design a technique that has only a
single upper volumetric channel in addition to the root volumetric channel. This might be placed
approximately halfway through the thickness from the outside surface. For thicknesses over about
20mm, volumetric coverage is best addressed with a minimum of one volumetric fill channel for every
8mm of wall thickness, e.g., for a 32mm wall thickness, 4 volumetric channels plus the root volumetric
channel would be recommended.
For wide opening weld bevels (e.g., single V 60° included angle) the coverage for volumetric
detections may not be adequate with a single line of targets at the centreline. Wide open V bevels may
require an extra set of targets offset from the centreline to assure that the upper volumes near the
bevel are also being addressed.
More details on the arrangements for volumetric coverage will be addressed in the descriptions of
calibration block designs and on calibration scan analysis to show how volume is verified by seeing
the targets above and below.

4.3 SOME TRANSVERSE IDEAS


The GMAW process has been designed to minimize the occurrence of cracking when all the welding
parameters are correctly adhered to. However, there are some occasions where the process controls
are not well controlled or there may be other applications where AUT is used but when GMAW is not
the welding method. In those cases there is a risk of crack formation. When the cracking is parallel to
the weld axis, the standard probe configuration for zonal discrimination is usually adequate to detect
the crack, especially when augmented with TOFD. However, when the failure is transverse to the
weld axis, the reflecting area of the flaw is incorrectly oriented to be detected by the standard
configurations; even TOFD will not be able to ensure a useful detection signal when the beam is
directed parallel to the flaw axis.
A transverse crack can have several causes. Some people may group transverse cracking as a form of
cold cracking as it is normally formed after the weld metal has solidified (28). These are also considered
a form of hydrogen cracking due to the presence of dissolved hydrogen in the material in many
instances, where the transverse cracks originate. Hydrogen cracking, also known as cold cracking or
delayed cracking, occurs in ferritic weldable steels; generally occurring immediately after welding or a
short time thereafter, but usually within 48hrs
On breaking open the weld at a cold crack, the surface of the crack is normally not oxidised, even if
they are surface breaking. This indicates they were formed when the weld was at or near ambient
temperature. A slight blue tinge may be seen from the effects of preheating or welding heat.
Transverse cracks originating in the HAZ are usually associated with the coarse grain region. The
transverse crack can also occur with rapid cooling of the weld and HAZ of high carbon or high alloy
steels as well as when excessive joint restraint exists.
Therefore, although the GMAW process is not normally prone to transverse cracking, there may be
times when the engineering concerns dictate that it should be monitored. In AUT applications this will
require special probe configurations. Due to the concerns for consistency of sensitivity and the need

56
Chapter (4): Beam Angles - Designing A Technique

for coupling checks there are only a few practical options for an AUT setup to include transverse
scanning.
The ideal condition for any ultrasonic inspection is
that the weld cap be removed. This ensures easier
probe approach to half-skip inspections, avoids
misleading geometry signals and allows full
surface access for a transverse scan. Although
such a condition is very rare in pipeline
construction, there may be some welds where
concerns for fatigue or other environmental
concerns could rationalize the removal of the
stress raiser formed by the weld cap. Such a
condition would permit one or more probes or
one or two linear phased array probes to be Figure 4-19 Transverse scans with no weld cap
positioned straddling the weld and configured to
monitor for surface breaking transverse cracks.
Such an ideal condition is indicated in Figure 4-19.
In Figure 4-19 the probes are symmetrically placed with respect to the beams. Both can be used to gate
the inside and outside surfaces. Moreover, by suitable spacing, the fact that they are facing each other
allows them to be configured to provide coupling checks.
When the weld cap is not removed the only option that permits a suitable method for coupling check
is a pitch-catch configuration with the probes straddling the weld and skewed anywhere from 30° to
60° from the weld axis. This configuration, shown in Figure 4-20, relies on a backscatter from a
transverse reflector for the flaw detection and a through-transmission to the opposite element of the
other transverse pair to verify coupling. Illustrated are 2 probe pairs straddling the weld cap, along
with ID and OD notches positioned to show which way the beams are configured to redirect the
transmitted beam back toward the receiver on the opposite side of the weld.

Figure 4-20 Transverse scans with weld cap

57
Chapter (4): Beam Angles - Designing A Technique

Both the techniques indicated are configured to detect corner reflectors breaking either the inside or
outside surface. Except for very thin wall pipe (e.g., <12mm) neither technique can adequately provide
coverage for a mid-wall transverse flaw that does not propagate to one of the surfaces. This would
require a series of tandems for each interval of vertical extent in the weld as is used for the near-
vertical bevels along the fusion line. Some caution must be used here lest the concern for a low
probability flaw creates an unnecessary burden on the inspection system. If a system is designed to
treat the transverse direction in the same way that the axial direction is inspected, many false calls
could result. A common flaw in welding is a short transverse non-fusion called a “stop-start”. These
can occur anywhere in the weld and can have the same ultrasonic characteristics as a small transverse
crack might have. Moreover, it should be noted that the transverse crack is also considered a delayed
crack and may take up to 48 hours to occur. When AUT, or any NDT, is completed only minutes after
the weld is completed, the possibility still exists that the delayed action can occur after the inspection.
Some precautions can be taken, by adding the transverse scan, but should not be considered 100%
assurance against a flaw that has potential for delayed formation.

4.4 ADDING TOFD


The Time of Flight Diffraction (TOFD) technique has been around since the early 1970s but has not
received the recognition that it perhaps merits. In some circles of the NDT industry it has been touted
as something of a “solution for all problems”. In fairness, it can provide excellent detection for many
flaws, and in some situations it is even adequate as a “stand-alone” NDT technique. At an early date
in the development of AUT, using zonal discrimination, it was suggested that TOFD could replace the
zonal technique. However, the limitations of near surface detection and the time required to size flaw
heights using the tip diffraction sizing algorithms, made it less attractive as a stand-alone technique
for pipeline girth weld inspections. In the mid 1990s, RTD of Rotterdam began using a TOFD module
with their Rotoscan inspections. It was an extra cost, as they ran a separate programme to address the
TOFD (RotoTOFD). It was apparent that the TOFD did not improve speed of inspection nor did it add
significant sizing accuracies to the fracture mechanics technique being used at the time. However, it
did add a much better method of identification of potential false calls. The presence of mismatch
(high-low) and certain cap and root geometry signals was often being incorrectly identified as
rejectable conditions when using just the zonal probes. Adding TOFD virtually eliminated the false
calls and still provides the “potential” for improved sizing under some conditions.
For most pipeline wall thicknesses a single TOFD pair is adequate. Thick sections (e.g., >35mm) could
take advantage of 2 TOFD pairs; one for the upper 12-15mm and a separate one for the remaining
wall. Phased array systems now often incorporate a dedicated TOFD pair of mono-element probes
(typically 15-20MHz) and configure a separate phased array focal law using the phased array probes
at 7.5MHz. Oddly, it is the lower frequency probe that is often seen to be more sensitive to the near
surface breaking indications; this is probably due to the increased beam spread of the lower
frequency. Depending on the project needs, two zone TOFD techniques could also be used on thinner
wall welds (i.e. >15mm).
Both conventional single element and phased array probes have been operated in AUT TOFD
applications. Early efforts used relatively large, low frequency, poorly damped probes (e.g., 10mm

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Chapter (4): Beam Angles - Designing A Technique

diameter, 4MHz with 3 cycles). This creates a dead zone of nearly 10mm, in some applications. For a
15mm wall thickness this would allow only the bottom 5mm to be assessed and even that would be
poorly assessed due to the long ring-time. Today, most AUT systems prefer smaller diameter, higher
frequency and highly damped probes. Typically a single element pair would be matched at 3mm to
6mm diameter, 10-20MHz and a single cycle (i.e. >90% bandwidth). Phased array systems are capable
of using a small number aperture (6-7 elements), but they are limited to the same nominal frequency
as the other focal laws used for the zonal discrimination. If they require improved TOFD, phased
array systems are equipped with the ability to address “dedicated” mono-element TOFD probes
having higher frequencies and different dimensions.
TOFD is considered a non-amplitude technique but some minimum and maximum sensitivities must
be established and a method of duplicating scan level from system to system should be incorporated
into the procedures. TOFD sensitivity may be configured by setting the amplitude of the lateral wave
or by setting the response off a calibration target such as a tip diffractor or a side-drilled hole.

4.5 SMAW AND SAW NEEDING VERTICAL TARGETS


AUT has been used on shielded metal arc welding SMAW (or manual “stick” welding) since the early
1990s. Since the welding process is manual, AUT cannot perform a true “process-control” and its
function reverts to that of the traditional check on workmanship that radiography previously
provided. But the sort of flaw most commonly found in SMAW is not the fine non-fusion that is the
concern in GMAW. Instead, slag, hollow bead, porosity, etc. are the common flaws. These are, for the
most part, volumetric flaws. Since the orientation of flaws in SMAW is therefore more likely to be
random, certain differences in AUT configuration are recommended. One is to use a slightly higher
sensitivity. This can be accomplished by calibrating on 1.5mm or 2mm diameter FBHs or using lower
amplitude for an evaluation threshold.
Another significant difference between GMAW and SMAW welding is the bevel shape. “Automatic
welding” using GMAW is sometimes referred to as narrow gap welding. This is seen to follow from
the very small bevel angle in the fill regions. With a J-bevel having a radius in the hot pass region of
on the order of 2.5mm, it means the opening at the hot pass can be as small as 5mm when the land
faces are made to contact. With only a 1° or 3° bevel angle above the hot pass, even a thicker wall pipe
may have an opening of only 6-7mm at the outside surface. But a manual preparation is typically a 60°
included angle to a small root land as indicated in Figure 4-21. The welding rod diameter is not a thin
piece of wire but has some dimension, typically 3-5mm across, to allow for the required flux coating.
This requires enough space that the manual operator can place the rod at the bottom of the weld
without risk of accidentally striking the arc too far up the bevel face.

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Chapter (4): Beam Angles - Designing A Technique

Figure 4-21 A typical manual welding bevel preparation

In a GMAW inspection configuration the weld centreline is never very far from the theoretical fusion
line. Contrasting this, the 60° included angle in a typical SMAW weld ensures that as the pipe wall
gets thicker, the beam, that is intended to cover the fusion line, has more and more difficulty making a
good approach to the centreline, thus ensuring the full volume coverage required by code. This is
shown in Figure 4-22.

Figure 4-22 Fusion line beam path inadequate for pulse-echo return path from centreline in SMAW

A flaw on the weld centreline that is vertically oriented would be unlikely to be detected by the
standard pulse-echo techniques optimised on the bevel fusion face. Even though the gated region may
cover the distance well past the centreline, the beam is reflected upwards off a centreline vertical flaw
and does not provide a direct path back to the probe.
When this problem occurs it is advisable to add one or more dedicated centreline channels to the
inspection technique. These would be positioned where a potential centreline flaw could be missed by
a specular reflection from the fusion line beam. It would use a tandem configuration to ensure that
any centreline flaws have a receiver optimally positioned to detect the re-directed beam. Due to the
wide opening and relatively large included angle, similar concerns can be seen in some compound

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Chapter (4): Beam Angles - Designing A Technique

bevels including those where submerged arc welding (SAW) is used for some or all of the joining
process. The placement of special centreline targets in a SAW weld setup is illustrated in Figure 4-23.

Figure 4-23 Centreline targets for SAW weld

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